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Deciphering the Contribution of RhoGTPases Dependent Signaling Pathways to the Collective Invasion of Colorectal Carcinoma

Abstract : Metastatic progression of cancer is responsible for 90% of the disease related death. It is a multi-step process which is initiated by invasion of the peritumoral stroma by cancer cells and which leads to the dissemination of cancer cells in the organism.My PhD work aimed at identifying the molecular and cellular process driving colorectal carcinoma (CRC) invasion, which is the 2nd most frequent cancer worldwide. Our analysis of live and human primary cancer specimen revealed that CRC cells used a collective mode of invasion to disseminate, in which cells retain an epithelium specific -glandular architecture. To investigate the signaling pathways regulating this mode of invasion, we used 3D organotypic models recapitulating the features of CRC glands (Caco-2 cysts and Patient derived Xenografts (PDX) tumoroids) in collagen-I based organotypic invasion assays and in microscopy-based analyses. Because of its central role in the regulation of cell motility, we postulated that RhoGTPases signaling pathways could control the collective of CRC. In a siRNA based- screen targeting all the known effectors of RhoGTPases we found that only ROCK kinases downregulation induced collective invasion in our experimental settings. We demonstrated that ROCK2 but not ROCK1 inhibition was sufficient to promote Leader cell formation, which induced the leader/follower polarization necessary for collective invasion. Our results revealed that ROCK2 inhibition triggered collective invasion through the concomitant inhibition of MyosinII and activation of the guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) FARP2 and the RhoGTPase RAC1. We therefore identify FARP2 as a new effector of ROCK2 and a mediator of the RhoA-RAC1 crosstalk in the regulation of collective invasion. In conclusion our study proposes a new ROCK dependent-signaling pathway in the regulation of collective invasion of highly polarized CRC glands models. Importantly, we found ROCK2 to be an anti-invasive protein which is in contradiction with its described pro-invasive role in single cell invasion. This suggests distinct roles of ROCK which may depend on the mode of invasion adopted by the cells and questions the benefice of proposed ROCK inhibition strategies to block cancer cell invasion.
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Fotine Libanje. Deciphering the Contribution of RhoGTPases Dependent Signaling Pathways to the Collective Invasion of Colorectal Carcinoma. Cellular Biology. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE), 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017SACLS503⟩. ⟨tel-01968068⟩

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